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If you are looking for an exciting activity to participate in that is both challenging and healthy, then look no further than handball. Olympic Handball (to differentiate it from other variations of hand-ball games) is an outstanding sport to become involved in due its fast paced, competitive nature and close-knit teams, not to mention a number of other factors that contribute towards a strong and fit body.
Here are the best reasons for trying out a season of handball:
- Terrific Calorie Burner
There are a number of studies that conclusively prove that as a high calorie burner, handball rates very favourably amongst other popular sports. The nutritional blog DEBInet puts handball at burning 19.3 kcal per minute as an average value. Per hour, this value is put at 13 – 15 kcal per hour, per kilogram of the player. Both these values are much higher than traditional team sports such as soccer or badminton, which is a very notable statistic.
The answer as to why handball is such a greedy calorie burner lies in the combination of what you do when you play it. This is a team sport with only seven players per side. Each team consists of one goalkeeper and six outfield players. This means that every player has a large influence on the outcome of the game, which in turn makes them more involved in participation.
The pitch measures 40 x 20 metres, so there is very little, if any, chance to fully rest and recover – play is simply too fast and constant to take any meaningful breaks during a game. Playing time consists of two periods of 30 minutes, so this in turn means that every player constantly dribbles, sprints, jumps and barges with opposing players for a full hour of playing time, which needs a lot of endurance.
A study in The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2014) discusses in some length the coordination, agility, speed and strength required of game players, and in turn the aerobic and endurance demands it places on the body. This is a tough sport that demands a lot of strength and energy from the players, which in turn needs large amounts of calories for fuelling the body.
- Awesome Aerobic Workout
Muscles that are constantly being pushed to perform will require more oxygen to make them work. This will work the lungs so that they can gather the extra oxygen that is needed by the muscles. This oxygen then needs to be transported to these muscles via the heart, which in turn also gets a vigorous workout. Finally, this whole process is fueled by fat and glycogen reserves which are stored in the body, so some serious calories will now start getting burned.
Handball is an aerobic exercise, which means that you need endurance to last throughout the game. All of the running and jumping that is required by an athlete will place great demands on the cardiovascular system, which over time will strengthen the heart, boost aerobic endurance and burn off excess weight. Everything you need to stay in shape!
- Fantastic Full Body Strengthening
The legs and the upper body are in for some great training if you decide to start playing handball. The legs will be constantly moving, alternating between brisk shuffles to full on sprints. This will work the fast twitch muscle groups that don’t usually get worked on a non-athlete. You also need to factor in the strength required when out-jumping your opponents, and coupled with the fact that you will need to build the endurance to carry this on for the entirety of a game, you will soon be building yourself legs of steel.
Don’t worry about the upper body being neglected though, because you still need to pass to teammates, dribble past opponents, swivel, dodge, take barges from the other players and shoot accurately to score goals. And don’t forget that the best players have learned how to play ambidextrously, so it is no good just being strong on your predominant side – you will soon get exploited by the other team!
Handball players are extremely flexible and well coordinated, on both sides of their body, so if you are planning on taking up handball as a sport you will have a lot of training to do to become fit, strong and supple enough to get the best benefits out of the game. This makes the sport a worthy one, where hard work and practice pays fulfilling rewards over time.
- Strategic Challenge
The game is basically split into phases of defence and attack, and it is up to the team to work out their different strategies and how to successfully implement them, while merging from one phase to the other. This involves perfecting specific techniques and numerous ball skills that can be used to maneuver your team into a strategically superior position, or to take advantage of an opponent’s weakness. If you thought handball was boring then think again.
- Great Sporting Family
Any team sport is worth doing for the camaraderie and esprit de corps that develops between the members. You soon learn how to work together as a coherent unit, how to play to each other’s strengths, and how to cover each other’s vulnerabilities, as well as how to cooperate with each other during challenging times. Successful teams are those that have learned how to accomplish their goals by making each and every member of the group an essential ingredient in their mixture for success. It takes effort to become a valuable contributor to the cause, but the results soon become evident.
Handball in Denmark is worth studying. With a host of medals across all international competitions won by both the men’s and the women’s teams, you can see how much the sport means to their fans. And it is also worth remembering that the men’s and women’s teams are treated in equal regard, as could be seen when the Danish Ladies Olympic Handball team beat the South Koreans in a thrilling penalty shoot-out in Athens, 2004, thereby winning their third Olympic Gold medal in a row – an amazing achievement. The entire country was captivated. Talking about the team ethos, Karin Mortensen, the Danish goalkeeper during that match, put it like this: “The teamwork you have is unique, and that is a large part of the sport. The players have to be able to function together socially, before they can play well on the field”.
So why not get involved? The sport has many associations across the globe and is steadily growing in stature and popularity. It is a sport of thinking, of action, of lots of bumps and plenty of goals. You just might find that you love it!